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Standing-room only crowd at hearing
It was standing room only at the Planning Commission session as Islanders voiced their concerns for a proposed 18-house development on a 5-acre parcel of land during a public hearing last Wednesday, Jan. 15. The Coval property, as it’s known, located at 3051 84th Avenue SE, has been featured in newspaper articles, on HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms and even has its own website.
The plot, very much a part of Island history, has a koi pond, fruit orchards, botanical garden and indoor pool. Much of the house is made with imported wood and was built with an incredible attention to detail over a 16-year period. In 2011, the Coval family put the house on the market.
“The turnout was amazing, it was sensational and very heartening and wonderful to have neighbors and professionals talk on substantive matters,” said resident Sue Stewart of last Wednesday’s meeting. “This wasn’t about personal grudges, it had to do with issues that were important.”
Traffic concerns dominated the conversation, though speakers were only allotted three minutes each. On a block that already sees speeding, many worried that construction vehicles on a narrow roadway would worsen conditions.
“People told horror stories about speeding [in the neighborhood],” said Stewart, whom also noted that a new elementary school on the southwest corner of Mercer Island High School would make for a “mega-block,” already expected to produce its own congestion. “Eighteen homes on our little street, can you imagine the traffic?”
Stewart also noted that the plans for the space were out of sync with the city’s comprehensive plan. Each of the houses, for which MI 84th Limited Partnerships is listed as the developer, is predicted to be between 4,500 and 5,000 square feet. About 206 of the more than 300 trees on the land would be cleared to make room for the new plots.
Former councilmember Mike Grady, a senior policy analyst for NOAA Fisheries, was also in attendance and spoke about sustainability and pollution in Lake Washington at the north end of the Island, rates which he said were already above federal levels.
Infill, said Stewart, should be kept away from steep slopes and the “watercourse” that runs through the property (a small, natural ravine that enters the property through a culvert at the south part of the property boundary).
“I congratulate the Planning Commission [for extending the comment period and hearing]. This is a complex process…We want to be thoughtful about it,” said Stewart. “We care about this neighborhood.”
Another public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 29 at City Hall.